How do you get HIV?

You get HIV from another person’s body fluids (body liquids). This means their blood, semen (sperm), the fluid in their vagina and breast milk. You cannot get HIV from another person’s saliva (spit) or tears.

One of the most common ways HIV is passed is by having sex (even once) without using a condom. The virus can enter your body through your vagina, penis, anus (bum), or your mouth during sex. It doesn’t matter how the sex happened. If you said ‘Yes’ to sex or ‘No’ to sex - or if it was a mistake or something you chose - you can still get HIV!

There are other ways you can get HIV:

  • A mother who has HIV can pass it on to her baby. This can happen when she is pregnant, when she is giving birth to the baby, or when she breastfeeds the baby. It is called mother-to-child transmission. It can be stopped if the mother takes strong HIV medicines called ARVs.
  • HIV can enter your body through open cuts or sores on any part of your body. The most dangerous sores are the ones on your vagina and penis.
  • HIV can enter your body straight into a vein. This could happen if you are injected with a dirty needle that has HIV on it, like if you take drugs using a needle.

If you know your ‘HIV status’ it means that you know for sure if you have HIV or not. You can’t see HIV and you can only know this by taking an HIV test at a clinic. When you take an HIV test and it comes back negative, then your status is HIV-negative (you don’t have HIV). When you take a test and it comes back positive, then your status is HIV-positive (you do have HIV).

Remember, if you are 12 years and older you don’t need your parent’s permission to get an HIV test but it’s always best to talk them about it.

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B-Wise User Anonymous 30 July 2018 15:19

hi I am 37 YEAR old and hiv positive and want to have a baby can you please help

B-Wise Expert Expert 30 July 2018 15:31

Hi there, thank you for your question. You can read this article for more information If I'm HIV positive, can I have kids? 

B-Wise User Anonymous 14 January 2018 21:11

Why are many people sick with HIV/AID'S?

B-Wise Expert Expert 17 January 2018 12:58

Hi Anonymous, 1 in 5 people over the age of 15 years are HIV positive in South Africa. Some of the reasons for this are people not having enough information on HIV, people not using condoms to protect against HIV, and violent sex or sex for support where people can’t always choose whether a condom gets used.
Scientists, doctors and researchers are still finding out ways to prevent HIV. For more information about HIV and how you can protect yourself, check out this section: on B-Wise.

B-Wise User Anonymous 3 December 2017 15:33

If u have sleep with a person she or he have HIV what will happened to u?

B-Wise Expert Expert 3 December 2017 15:44

Hi, Anonymous. If your partner has HIV, having unprotected sex (sex without a condom) with them puts you at risk of getting HIV. The HIV lives in the sperm, body fluids and blood. It is important to use a condom every time you have sex even if you don't know your partners status. If you have had sex with someone who is HIV positive or who doesn't know their status, it will be best to get an HIV test at your local clinic or pharmacy today.

B-Wise User Anonymous 4 November 2017 13:53

How can a pregnant mother infect unborn baby while still in the womb?

B-Wise Expert Expert 8 November 2017 09:48

Hi there, thank you for your question. HIV can be found in the blood and bodily fluids of someone who is HIV positive. When the baby comes into contact with these fluids from their mother while they’re in the womb, the baby can get infected too. HIV positive mothers should start to take antiretroviral treatment (ART) as soon as they find out they are HIV positive and should continue to take this treatment for life. This gives the mother less chance of infecting the baby with HIV.  The best chance of a mother with HIV having an HIV negative baby is for the mom to start taking ART before her pregnancy. 

B-Wise User Sr. Spoh 28 October 2017 19:27

i saw vaginal sheaths that can be used by lesbians when perfoming oral sex, where can these be found? Can our government put more emphasis on didtributing these like they do condoms because as i say i only saw this once during a demonstration and never again.

B-Wise Expert Expert 20 April 2018 12:46

Hi there, thank you for your question. Vaginal sheaths can be found at some community centers as well as the local clinics. 

B-Wise User Anonymous 16 August 2017 13:30

How save it is to drink alcohol while taking ARV medication.

B-Wise Expert Expert 6 September 2017 11:36

Dear Anonymous, You can have some alcohol while you are on ARVs, however this needs to be done in moderation because heavy alcohol intake may have many negative effects such as:

             Forgetting to take your ARVs at the correct time

             With certain ARVs there may be increased side effects like                 drowsiness (shared side effect of the two combined)

             General health may be affected (poor appetite may happen as a                 result of heavy alcohol intake resulting in and weight loss

             If you are anaemic as a result of HIV or the ARVs you are taking,                 this may be worsened by alcohol intake

Therefore, it is important that alcohol is taken in moderation and be sure take your ARV at the correct time always!

B-Wise User Anonymous 15 August 2017 14:04

How to protect your partner from getting affected when you are having sex if you are lesbian

B-Wise Expert Expert 17 August 2017 18:04

Hi Anonymous, Thank you for this interesting question. Here are a few things you can do to keep you and your partner safe:   ·     Wash your hands before and after sex ·      Wear latex gloves, especially if you have a cut or scratch on your finger or hand·    Use lubrication·    If you use sex toys, use lubrication, and use the toys carefully to prevent injuries or bleeding. Always wash them before and after use, and use a new condom every time you use a sex toy with a different partner·    Avoid oral sex if you have any sores/cuts around or in your mouth ·     Avoid oral sex if the receiving partner is menstruating·     Place a piece of plastic wrap or a condom cut open over the genitals and anus during oral sex
Remember, always practice the above ‘safer sex’ tips to keep you and  your partner safe from HIV and STIs. Enjoy!